When I moved back to Montana this summer, my mother bequeathed to me her old crock pot. It is a handy little appliance, and I have since expanded my world of convenient cooking. Besides making endless batches of beans and stock, I've also been making killer Indian food. Thanks to The Indian Slow Cooker cookbook, I've discovered the absolute easiest way to make saag, a dish of curried greens, is in my crock pot.
With a healthy pile of greens and some Indian spices, the crock pot melds it all into a heavenly spiced dish. Modern Saag Paneer dish is typically made with spinach, but I have found that many other greens are also great in this dish. Because you are cooking the greens for a total of 5 hours, even the sturdiest green will eventually break down. Kale and chard both stand up well, and if you have an overabundance of mustard greens in the summer, use them.
I've also been experimenting with flatbreads from another great cookbook. My recent favorite has been chapati, which is an ideal accompaniment to this meal. It is a tortilla-like Indian flatbread made of entirely whole wheat flour and is much easier to make than naan. I will be posting a recipe for chapati very soon.
I have a 5 quart crock pot which is the perfect size for this recipe. If you have a 10 quart or larger, I would recommend doubling the recipe. You will yield a nice helping of leftovers with little extra effort.
Having an immersion blender makes this recipe a cinch because you can blend everything right in the slow cooker. However, you can also blend the greens in batches with a blender or food processor. Just make sure to let the greens cool slightly before blending.
Saag with Fried Potatoes
adapted from The Indian Slow Cooker
makes 4 to 6 servings
The original recipe calls for cubed paneer, a non-melting soft cheese. Some family friends introduced fried potatoes as a substitute, and I prefer it. You could also use plain or fried tofu.
1 lb spinach, kale and/or chard, washed and larger stems roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 small tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 head garlic, or about 10 cloves, peeled and left whole
1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly sliced
2 - 4 serranos, stems removed
1 heaping Tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp red chili powder (not Mexican)
1 tsp turmeric
1 - 2 tsp salt
chapati or naan
Place a large helping of the greens in the bottom of the crock pot. Add in the onions, tomatoes, garlic, and all of the spices except the salt. Pack the top of the crock pot with the remaining greens. Cook on high for about 3 hours, stirring once or twice. With an immersion blender, puree the mixture until almost smooth.
Add the salt to taste and heat on low for 2 hours to let the flavors further develop. Towards the end of the cooking time, prepare the Fried Potatoes (below). Once potatoes are finished, gently stir into saag. Serve with chapati and fixins'.
2 medium potatoes, scrubbed
about 1/4 c oil
Chop the potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat oil in a 7-inch cast iron or a small saucepan on medium-high. When hot, add potatoes in batches, making sure they are not overcrowded. Fry potatoes, stirring regularly, until brown on all sides. Drain and set aside. Repeat until all potato cubes are fried. Stir into saag.